NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Saturday Slam: Oscar Robertson's comments about Stephen Curry are pathetic

     Tonight, Stephen Curry tied the NBA's single-game record for made 3-point shots. Earlier this week, NBA legend Oscar Robertson made the following statement about Stephen Curry:

"If I've got a guy who's great shooting the ball outside, don't you want to extend your defense out a little bit?" the 77-year-old Big O said Thursday during a phone interview on ESPN's Mike & Mike show. "I just don't think coaches today in basketball understand the game of basketball. They don't know anything about defenses. They don't know what people are doing on the court. They talk about analytical basketball and stuff like that."
     Oscar Robertson's logic is as follows: Stephen Curry is amazing because NBA coaches are too stupid to realize that he is a good 3-point shooter. I.e. If NBA coaches realized that guarding Stephen Curry on the perimeter was a good idea; he wouldn't be doing what he is today.

     As much as I have respect for Oscar Robertson as a basketball player, he's flat out wrong. Even more importantly, he comes off as one of those out-of-touch old guys who sits back in his rocking chair and talks about how everything was better in his day. Don't get me wrong, Oscar Robertson is entitled to his opinion and we should respect his right to speak his mind; but that doesn't mean that he should be free from criticism should he say something stupid. Oscar Robertson said something stupid and he needs to own up to it.

     More importantly, Oscar Robertson is missing out on a golden opportunity to be a classy elder statesman of the NBA. Oscar Robertson is regarded by many to be the greatest player of his generation and some will even say he's the greatest player to ever play the game. He's a basketball legend and immortal of the game. His legacy is set in stone and nothing will change that. So, for him to try to tear down a guy like Stephen Curry who is on his own path to greatness looks rather petty and pathetic.

     Instead of criticizing today's NBA coaches and diminishing Stephen Curry's accomplishments, Oscar Robertson should take the high road and praise Stephen Curry for revolutionizing the game and doing things that we've never seen done on a basketball floor before. Stephen Curry is one of the most special talents the game of basketball has ever seen and it's sad that Oscar Robertson, who was a special talent in his own right, fails to recognize Stephen Curry's special talent for what it is.


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Saturday Slam: Will Lance Stephenson ever find a permanent home?

     After leveraging a breakout season with the Indiana Pacers into a three-year, $27M contract with the Charlotte Hornets in the summer of 2014, Lance Stephenson is now playing for his third team in less than two seasons. He was deemed a distraction while with the Hornets and evidently was creating problems for the Los Angeles Clippers, who just traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies for Jeff Green.
     We all knew that Lance Stephenson was somewhat of a head case back when he was with the Pacers. I think him blowing into the ear of LeBron James confirmed that to us, but even amid those silly antics, we still thought of him as a talented head case who could make an impact on any team in the NBA due to his size, defense, and ability to slash to the rim.

     However, the numbers say otherwise. After averaging 13.8 points per game in the 2013-14 season with the Pacers, his scoring averaged dipped to 8.2 points per game with the Hornets last season, and 4.7 points per game with the Clippers this season before being shipped off to Memphis. Interestingly enough, his per 36 minutes numbers haven't dipped that much (14.1 points per game to 10.8 points per game), but what has dipped significantly has been his time on the court (35.3 minutes per game with the Pacers in 2013-14 to 15.8 minutes per game with the Clippers this season).

     What this seems to indicate is that the Indiana Pacers knew how to utilize his talents in ways that no other team has been able to figure out. In Indiana, he was the benefactor of a system that utilized his talents and to his credit, he was good for their system as well. He was a very good player for the Pacers and absolutely deserved all the positive attention that he was getting. Sadly, it now appears likely that he won't ever find that same level of success in a different city. Indiana was great for him and he was great for Indiana.

     So, with that all likely being true, does this mean that Lance Stephenson's only path to success is returning to the Pacers? The answer is maybe and ironically, he'd probably have to return at a discount rate due to his recent struggles. What hasn't helped him is that certainly in Charlotte and even in Los Angeles, he was expected to be a star player who could take over games and help his team make serious noise in the playoffs. It's entirely possible that what he was in Indiana, which was a very good role player, is all that he really is and these other teams have been expecting too much from him.

     What is certainly true is that he doesn't have the right mentality to be a star and he is better off being the third or fourth option behind more experienced and talented veterans. Interestingly enough, Memphis creates such an environment for him. The Grizzlies rely on Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Mike Conley to be their leaders and Lance Stephenson will be asked to provide an extra boost and support, similar to what he was expected to do for the Pacers.

      Much like the Pacers teams that Stephenson was apart of, the Grizzlies win by playing stingy defense and crashing the glass. It's entirely possible that Lance Stephenson returns to form in Memphis and embraces his role as something similar to what he had in Indiana. He has the pieces to make an impact in Memphis, but he'll have to get his mind right and be willing to be a role player as opposed to being a star. If can re-embrace the role player identity, he very well may find his groove again on Beale Street. If he can't re-embrace this identity, odds are good he'll be playing for yet another team in the 2016-17 season with one foot out the door.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Zach LaVine & Aaron Gordon electrified Toronto on NBA All-Star Weekend

     The highlight of the 2016 NBA All-Star Saturday Night and possibly the weekend, was the slam dunk contest. Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine and Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon had one of the most epic slam dunk battles the world has ever seen. Every time Aaron Gordon did something that couldn't be topped, Zach LaVine found a way to match it and get a 50 to stay alive in sudden death.

     While we have seen a lot of great dunks over the years, what makes this dunk contest different is that we got to see two guys who truly matched each other for their grace, creativity, and difficulty. Aaron Gordon's soaring between the legs dunk over the Magic's mascot was jaw dropping and Zach LaVine's between the legs dunk from the foul line was equally spectacular. In truth, even though Zach LaVine ended up winning, there really was no winner to this dunking duel. Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon both were winners because they captivated the minds of NBA fans across the globe.

     The reason we watch the NBA is to be entertained by the world's best players and both Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon demonstrated an understanding of this. They knew that people wanted to see a show and they did everything in their power to put on the best show possible. What was even more impressive to see was the mutual respect between the two players when the contest finally ended. Zach LaVine was happy to win, but he was quick to recognize that Aaron Gordon did some stuff that he himself could not do.

     This dunk contest really had everything we could hope for. It had dunks we hadn't seen, dunks that left us in awe, and dunks that left us wanting more. I don't know about you, but if somebody told me that Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon were having a dunk off at 2:00 AM at Rucker Park with glow in the dark basketballs, I would stay up to watch it.

     Hopefully, future dunk contests will also be able to entertain us, but make no mistake, the dunk contest isn't back. It's been back for a while and Zach LaVine and Aaron Gordon just took it to another level. It was beautiful to watch and definitely worth watching again.


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday Windmill: The Orlando Magic should retire Shaquille O'Neal's number

     The Miami Heat have made the decision to retire Shaquille O'Neal's #32 at the start of the 2016-17 season. 'The Big Aristotle' certainly had some good years with the Heat; making three All-Star appearances while helping the franchise capture their first NBA title in 2006. The Heat will be the second NBA franchise to retire O'Neal's number, but amazingly enough; they shouldn't be the last to do it, either. With the Lakers and Heat both deciding to retire Shaquille O'Neal's number, it's time for the Orlando Magic to follow suit and make it three.
     There are several reasons for why the Orlando Magic should retire Shaquille O'Neal's number 32. The first reason is that they haven't retired any numbers other than the number 6, which is in honor of the fans (Sixth man). That's right, the Magic have not retired the number of any player who actually played for them.
     What's even more amazing about this is the fact that over the years, the Orlando Magic have actually been a competitive team. They've been to the NBA Finals twice and had some of the most talented players in the league such as Dwight Howard and Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway in addition to Shaquille O'Neal. One would think that during their 26-year history, somebody would have earned the honors of having their number retired. If the Utah Jazz have retired nine numbers, surely the Orlando Magic can have one other number retired in addition to the number 6.
     Secondly, if the Orlando Magic were to retire the number of any player in their history, Shaquille O'Neal would be the first guy whose number should be retired. During his time in Orlando, he led the franchise to its first NBA Finals appearance and made the incredibly prestigious "50 Greatest Players in NBA History" list after his 3rd season in the league. Orlando is where Shaquille O'Neal began his career and considering all that he accomplished during his brief four years there; it would only be fitting for the Magic to retire his number.
     The third reason for why the Orlando Magic should retire Shaq's number has to do with the fact that he really gave the franchise a boost in its early era. Shaquille O'Neal burst on the NBA scene as a rookie, averaging 23.4 points and 13.9 rebounds per game. During his second and third seasons, he averaged a whopping 29.3 points per game, which are some of the best numbers in the history of the game for any individual season.
     Thanks to Shaquille O'Neal's incredible start to his career, the Orlando Magic instantly became a relevant franchise that everybody wanted to watch. Without him, the Orlando Magic would have had a much harder time gaining relevancy and probably would have been a team similar to the Vancouver Grizzlies, who ended up moving to Memphis due to a lack of fan support. In essence, it is quite possible that Shaquille O'Neal is the reason the Orlando Magic still exist as opposed to being in the form of a different team in a different city.
     With all of these reasons being laid out, why is it that the Orlando Magic haven't retired his number? The answer has to do with hurt feelings. Shaq left Orlando after his 4th season to go Hollywood and join the Los Angeles Lakers. With the Lakers, Shaq won three straight NBA championships and made four NBA Finals appearances. It's obvious that the Orlando Magic feel like Shaquille O'Neal turned his back on them and didn't accomplish all that he could have while a member of their team.
     While that is all very true, it still doesn't diminish what O'Neal accomplished in Orlando. His positive impact on the franchise resonates until this day and one could easily argue that of all the teams he has played for, his greatest impact was made on the Magic. When Shaq got to the Lakers, they were already the premier franchise of the NBA and as for the Heat; Dwyane Wade was the top dog.

     As for the Magic, the arrival of Shaquille O'Neal was a Godsend that put them on the map and kept them relevant in the public eye long after he left. Considering that, the very least the Magic can do is hang his jersey from the top of their arena. In truth, it would probably be fitting for them to build him a statue as well. He means that much to them whether they want to admit it or not.